Euro 2016 - Arsenal's Mertesacker ends Germany career

Germany's Per Mertesacker, a member of the World Cup-winning squad in Brazil last month, has announced his international retirement.

Reuters
Euro 2016 - Arsenal's Mertesacker ends Germany career
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2014, World Cup, Germany, Per Mertesacker (Reuters)

Germany centre half Per Mertesacker, a member of the World Cup-winning squad in Brazil last month, has quit the international arena in order to focus on club football.

The 29-year-old Arsenal player, who won 104 caps and scored four goals, becomes the third squad member to retire since the end of the World Cup following captain Philipp Lahm and record goalscorer Miroslav Klose.

Mertesacker, who came on in the last minute of extra-time in Germany's 1-0 final win over Argentina, told the Sueddeutsche newspaper he wanted to determine when his international career finished.

"First and foremost it was about me, after a 10-year career in the team, being able to say when the chapter ended," Mertesacker said.

Tall and powerful, the defender was Germany's first choice centre back for a decade after winning his first cap in 2004.

Mertesacker lost his place when coach Joachim Loew opted for Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels in the middle of the back four when they crushed hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Loew started with the same pair in the final as well.

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Per Mertesacker celebrates after the World Cup final (Getty)

"That tournament was a golden finale," Mertesacker said. "Now I want to be Premier League champions with Arsenal and also attack the Champions League."

Mertesacker played in three World Cups and also featured at the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

Arsenal launch their Premier League season with a London derby against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

OUR VIEW

Retiring from international football at the age of 29 seems a bit premature, particularly for a defender. Maybe he does want to quit while he's ahead - but there are suspicions that Mertesacker knows he won't be in the team much longer. He played poorly in the 2-1 a.e.t. win over Algeria in the second round, was dropped against France and featured as a sub in the remaining two matches. Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels will be tough to dislodge, and with several promising youngsters coming through, Per probably thought his time was up.

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